Built for the rough stuff
Torpedo7 team member, Kirkpatrick, recently took the Intense Carbine to the FourForty MTB Park and is giving us his first impressions of the bike. With a passion for outdoor sports and a history of racing downhill mountain bikes in the Philippine National Circuit, Kirk has shared his first impressions of the Intense Carbine. Read the review below!
Intense Carbine Review:
Intense Cycles has recently been added to our bike range at Torpedo7 and we're super stoked to have the brand onboard. These high-quality bikes add yet another dimension to our ever growing bike range. A couple of our staff members were lucky enough to test ride this year's Intense Carbine on a day out at the Four Forty Mountain Bike Park recently. Needless to say we had a good old time and were really impressed with this ride.
Intense Cycles' pedigree of expert frame building and a brand that pushed big wheels and long travel in the early years, shows strongly in the new 2021 Carbine Expert 29. This machine is perfectly balanced. Its ability to get you up the toughest Enduro climbs is matched by its poise, and hard charging characteristics for fast and steep descents. It's a great all round bike that's at home in the hands of the racer and weekend warrior alike.
The new 2021 colorway and overall look of this Intense bike is really unique. In a world of frame colours full of monotone greys, blacks and safe standardised block colours, the Carbine Expert is a package that will stand out on the trails, and is reminiscent of their early design years. The colours are sleek and the graphics aren't too crazy, the Intense metal badge on the tube head gives it another touch of originality. The whole package is something a little different, we really like this new look for 2021.
Out on trails the Carbine comes to life, its overall performance puts it up there with the better of the big wheeled long travel Enduro bikes. The Carbine is a very versatile offering, just as much at home on challenging techy trails and climbs as it is at high speed descents or laps in the park. It didn't take us long (3 runs) to adjust to the Carbine's set-up. Not usually riding a 29er in the park or on decent gravity trails, we had to relearn our cornering lines slightly, particularly in the tight sections. Once we adjusted to this, the Carbine performed just as you would expect from a bike of this quality and build spec. On the fast, straight and steep tracks it was well composed and balanced. When hitting the jumps it wasn't nose-heavy at all, easily popping off the lips or squashing a jump when needed. This is a bike that really can handle anything you throw its way, it won't let you down in the rough and steep stuff.
In the suspension department the Carbine Expert is no slouch. Up front it runs the DVO Diamond D3 with 160mm of travel. In the rear we have the DVO Topaz 1 Air 230mm X 60mm, featuring a 3-position adjustment (open/mid/firm) giving 150mm travel. This set-up did take us a little bit of time to dial in a really good base tune outside of the recommended factory setting, but once we had that done the suspension performed really well overall for our riding style. The climbing position on the bike is great with the VPP set-up being very supportive. On the more techy climbs the suspension remained active, making for increased traction and optimal pedaling efficiency. We found that on the short uphill climbs we didn't need to turn our lockout on, which was a nice bonus. The Carbine also features a JS tuned (Jeff Steber) suspension system where two counter-rotating links connect the front and rear triangles of the bike. These links are specifically placed to allow for separation between pedaling and braking forces from the suspension performance.
The drivetrain on the Carbine Expert is Shimano SLX. We found this to deliver a familiar, nice, crisp feel when shifting and it never missed a change. It performed as expected of high quality Shimano components. The stopping department is well-handled by the Shimano M6120 Four Piston brakes, with 203mm rotors in the front and rear. This is a set-up which delivers some good stopping power. We didn't notice any brake fade on the longer descents, but we don't usually drag our brakes. The chain and cassette is Shimano Deore 12SP and the bottom bracket is the Shimano BB92. These felt solid and got the job done with ease. Seatpost is the Intense Recon 31.6mm dropper and it's finished off with e*Thirteen Base bars (800mm) and stem.
The Intense Carbine Expert 29er delivers a really versatile package for any level Enduro/Trail rider. It has strong climbing characteristics, the geometry is solid and the overall look is original and slick. The Carbine could benefit from being spec'd up in the componentry department (XT would be better) but in saying that, so do most bikes. The factory set-up runs just fine, we didn't experience any problems in the test sessions. This is a bike that's well built, has a nice responsive feel out on the trails - whether you are going up or down. The Carbine is a great choice for riders needing a 29er that will perform well in everything you throw at it.
Reviewed by Torpedo7 team member, Kirkpatrick Gil Oliverio.